Please Don't Make Us Draft a Schooler

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Wizards are cursed with a high lottery pick -- that's right, cursed. The most talented player available to them may well be a high schooler, and they can't bring themselves to draft another schooler. At the same time, they can't bring themselves to draft anyone but the best available talent when it comes to their turn. So what choice do they have but to look to deal their pick?

Sure, if they get the top pick, they'll almost surely go with Emeka Okafor and call it a day. There would be few if any doubters. But suppose -- heaven forbid -- they get the second pick. To the Wizards, that would be almost worse than getting the fifth pick, because they would feel enormous pressure (from their own selves, mind you) to draft Dwight Howard.

Then they'll look at their roster and see Kwame Brown and think: not again. It's not that Brown is an unmitigated bust; it's just that the Wizards can't go through the heartache of such a high-risk strategy again.

What choice do they have but to look to deal the pick?

They are in the same boat as Orlando, and that boat is a schooner, of course, a 19th century sailing ship whose foremost mast is shorter than the others. Both the Magic and the Wizards need a big post for their schooner, and a schooler just won't do. Both teams would like to deal their picks for a veteran big man that can come in and make an immediate impact.

The Magic reportedly would even deal their #1 pick should they win it, which I wrote in yesterday's Orlando report is a mistake. The Wizards would presumably just go with Okafor, which is the right thing to do.

But they do want to deal their high school pick, if it's second or third or maybe even fifth or sixth. The only way they'd keep their top pick is if the most talented player available at the time has at least one college credit to his name.

Can you blame them? Look at this list of Washington draft choices:

1992 Tom Gugliotta
1993 Calbert Cheaney
1994 Juwan Howard
1995 Rasheed Wallace
1999 Richard Hamilton
2001 Kwame Brown
2002 Juan Dixon and Jared Jefferies
2003 Jarvis Hayes and Steve Blake

All the names until Kwame Brown were excellent picks. All the names after Kwame Brown went to college.

This year, the Wizards will either draft a college player, or if a high school player is the most talented player available at their draft spot, they will deal it.

In other words, 2004 will be a lot more like the 1990's than the 2000's.

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The Australiancites correspondents in New York and writes: Basketball legend Michael Jordan will make a four-city tour of Asia next week.He will speak with youth as well as dignitaries during basketball events and exhibitions. Jordan, 41, retired last year after a two-year NBA comeback with the Washington Wizards. But his aerobatic moves and uncanny shotmaking during his prime with Chicago established him as one of the greatest players in basketball history. 

Bob Joseph ofInside Carolinawrites: For the second year, former Tar Heel Brendan Haywood will be part of the television broadcasting crew for the WNBA's Washington Mystics. Haywood, a three-year NBA veteran with the Washington Wizards, will again team with Dei Lynamon Comcast Sportsnet's local TV coverage of five Mystic's games starting on May 22nd with the season opener against the Charlotte Sting.

C.L. Brown ofThe Courier-Journalwrites: Of the 20 early entrants — excluding international players — taken in the first round of the 2001 draft only Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph and Richard Jefferson have become stand out players. The rest of that class is still in the developmental stage. Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry were all high school players and the top three picks. Brown, who became the first high school player to be taken first overall, has yet to play up to his billing.That is the way it has been in recent years. For every Amare Stoudemire, who starts for the Phoenix Suns and was named Rookie of the Year in 2003, there are plenty such as Marcus Taylor — a sophomore from Michigan State who was a second-round pick in 2002 but is no longer in the league.